Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation (also known as ST:TNG or TNG) is a science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe. The first live-action television continuation of the 1966–1969 series, Star Trek: The Original Series, The Next Generation is set nearly a century later and features a new starship and a new crew.
The series was conceived and produced by original Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. It premiered on August 28, 1987 with the two-hour pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" and ran for seven seasons, ending with the final episode "All Good Things..." on May 29, 1994. The show gained a considerable following during its run, and like its predecessor, is widely syndicated.
The voiceover during each episode's opening credits was similar to that of the original series:
- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
The episodes follow the adventures of the crew of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D), a Galaxy Class starship designed for exploration and diplomacy but capable in battle when necessary. Its captain is the seasoned and charismatic Jean-Luc Picard, who is more intellectual and philosophical than many typical protagonists in popular science fiction.
As in the case of The Original Series (TOS), the crew of the Enterprise-D meets many technologically powerful races. Many episodes also involve temporal loops, character dramas, natural disasters, and other plotlines without alien encounters. This crew favors peaceful negotiation more than TOS's crew did. The Prime Directive is involved more frequently and is followed more closely; it states that the Federation must not interfere with the development of cultures that are not capable of interstellar travel. This often creates moral conflict within characters, as they are sometimes bound to ignore races in need of help.
Another noticeable difference between TOS and TNG is the continuity of general story arcs across episodes — events in one episode might influence events in a later episode. One major recurring character, Q, bookends the series, appearing as the first major antagonist in "Encounter at Farpoint" and closing the series by forcing the crew into an ultimate test of human resourcefulness in the final episode "All Good Things...". His Puck-like behavior and calculated mayhem in many episodes makes him the most influential antagonist of the crew, as had been planned from the series' beginning.
Previously-established alien races appear in TNG.
- The United Federation of Planets (Federation) is now in an alliance with the Klingons, former enemies, though vast cultural differences remain.
- A "cold war" with the Romulans continues throughout the series.
- Three new recurring enemy races are introduced: the Ferengi, the Borg, and the Cardassians; although the Ferengi and Borg are introduced in the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise
The Borg are the most significant threat in this series. In the episode "The Best of Both Worlds," a single Borg ship destroys thirty-nine Starfleet vessels at the Battle of Wolf 359 then continues to Earth, where it is stopped by the actions of the Enterprise crew.
The series greatly expands on a secondary theme of TOS: the idealism of humanity's dedication to improving itself. It also continues TOS's approach of using extra-terrestrial species and science fiction elements as a means of exploring many real-world social, political, personal and spiritual issues. The series continues to mirror Gene Roddenberry's vision of a future humanity which transcends war, racism, prejudice, and poverty.
TNG has been praised for being more in the spirit of "traditional" idea-based science fiction than other action/adventure franchises which became more common between 1970 and 2000. However, it has also been criticized for shying away from conflict and character drama and too often having the crew solve its challenges through the discovery or invention of hitherto-unknown technology (known as Treknobabble).
Gene Roddenberry continued to be credited as executive producer of TNG though his influence lessened as the series progressed. He died in 1991 and producer Rick Berman took over, and under his guidance, the series came to rely more on action and conflict.
The series also contains many story elements that are found in all the Star Trek series. For instance, an alien or android is a member of the crew, and a lot of dialogue revolves around explaining human customs to the alien (supposedly enlightening the human viewer in the process). Critics see this as a tired cliché.
The prospect of a new live-action Star Trek series after 18 years was much anticipated by the Star Trek fan community, but for some, anticipation turned to outrage when Gene Roddenberry announced that the new series would feature a brand new cast and be set in a time long after the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and his crew, making even guest appearances by the original cast unlikely. Before production even began on the series, factions of Star Trek fandom were at work circulating petitions and organizing protests against the new series.
Although it is not known what, if any, impact these protests had on the producers, it is known that as early as the first season efforts were underway to arrange for an appearance by Leonard Nimoy as Spock (the event wouldn't happen until the fifth season), and a script was reportedly written to feature the character of Harry Mudd, a recurring minor criminal from TOS. The episode was cancelled when actor Roger C. Carmel died. DeForest Kelley made a cameo appearance in the first episode as an unnamed admiral (presumably Leonard McCoy).
As late as 2004 there remain some fans who steadfastly refuse to watch any of "modern" Trek, even though TNG (and later series and movies) have all featured characters from the original series, including Spock, Scotty, and Kirk himself.
By the time TNG was produced, the term "Trekkies" had come to imply a certain nerdy fanaticism among fans and was considered pejorative by some, in spite of the fact that it was coined by creator Gene Roddenberry himself, with no such negative connotations. In response, some fans of the new series decided to call themselves "Trekkers." The terms have become interchangeable.
Four feature films have been made featuring the series' characters:
TNG paved the way for three other TV series:
The series has also inspired countless novels, analytical books, web-sites, and works of fan fiction.
The main characters of TNG are crew members of the Enterprise. All characters have their main post on the bridge except Geordi LaForge who is in Engineering. In early episodes, Wesley Crusher plays a civilian on the Enterprise until Picard gives him the commission of Acting Ensign on stardate 41263.4 (episode "Where No One Has Gone Before").
Every episode in which Diana Muldaur appeared as Katherine Pulaski listed her as a "special guest star" rather than a primary character. She was also a guest star in two episodes of TOS.
|Patrick Stewart||Captain||Jean-Luc Picard||Commanding officer|
|Jonathan Frakes||Commander||William Riker||Executive (first) officer|
|Brent Spiner||Lieutenant Commander||Data||Chief operations officer|
|LeVar Burton||Lieutenant Commander||Geordi LaForge||Chief engineering officer|
|Michael Dorn||Lieutenant||Worf||Chief security and tactical officer|
|Gates McFadden||Commander Doctor||Beverly Crusher||Chief medical officer (seasons 1, 3-7)|
|Diana Muldaur||Commander Doctor||Katherine Pulaski||Chief medical officer (season 2)|
|Marina Sirtis||Commander Counselor||Deanna Troi||Ship's counselor|
|Denise Crosby||Lieutenant||Tasha Yar||Chief security officer (season 1)|
|Wil Wheaton||Ensign||Wesley Crusher||Dr. Crusher's son|
|Brian Bonsall||Alexander Rozhenko, Worf's son||seasons 4–7|
|Patti Yasutake||Nurse Alyssa Ogawa||Seasons 3–7|
|Whoopi Goldberg||Guinan, wise bartender||Seasons 2–7|
|Colm Meaney||Miles O'Brien, transporter chief||Seasons 1–7|
|Rosalind Chao||Keiko O'Brien, Miles O'Brien's wife||Seasons 4–7|
|Tony Todd||Kurn, Worf's half brother||Seasons 3–7|
|Majel Barrett|| Lwaxana Troi, Deanna Troi's mother|
voice of the Enterprise computer
|Daniel Davis||Professor Moriarty, a sentient Holodeck character||Seasons 2 and 7|
|John de Lancie||Q, omnipotent member of the Q Continuum||Seasons 1–7|
|Dwight Schultz||Lieutenant Reginald Barclay, engineer||Seasons 4–7|
|Michelle Forbes||Ensign Ro Laren, a Bajoran||Seasons 5–7|
|Denise Crosby||Sela, a Romulan||Seasons 4 and 5|
|Spot, Data's cat||Seasons 1–7|
|Eric Menyuk||The Traveler||Seasons 1, 4, and 7|
|Mark Lenard||Ambassador Sarek, a Vulcan and Spock's father||Seasons 3 and 5|
Ms. Barrett (wife of Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry), has also been the voice of the ship's computer in most Trek incarnations, and was Nurse Chapel in the original series, as well as the unnamed first officer in the first pilot of the original series, "The Cage"
- Star Trek: The Next Generation at StarTrek.com
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